Veterinarian clinic offers alternative

By Heidi McKinley, correspondent

Until recently, the only treatment options for animals with degenerative tissue disease were pain relievers and anti-inflammatories.

Eastern Iowa Veterinary Specialty Center, however, soon will offer a promising new alternative.

The typical drug therapy doesnt solve the problem, said veterinarian Bob Harman, CEO of the company Vet Stem. It just reduces the inflammation.

Harmans company has partnered with EIVSC, which is in Cedar Rapids, to use an animals own cells for healing. This therapy is presented to owners as a way to regenerate tissue more naturally.

Were not using foreign (cells). Were not killing babies. Were not using embryos. Were not doing any of the stuff you see on 60 Minutes and CNN, Harman said. Were going to use the dogs own natural cells.

The process involves harvesting a sample from a pets fatty tissue, concentrating the cells in a lab and then injecting them back into the joint. The average dog will go 18 months to two years between therapies.

Stem cell therapy is most commonly used to treat arthritis; however, future applications could be used for possibly fatal diseases such as kidney failure, immune system malfunction (for example, dry eye) and traumatic injury.

The clinics motivation to offer the service came from the case of a 12-year-old sheltie/collie mix named Yurtie.

Yurtie is the first and only patient to receive stem cell therapy at the clinic. Jan Erceg adopted her after her previous owner, Kevin McClain, died from lung cancer in 2011. McClain had been living out of his car when Erceg, a paramedic, was dispatched to take him to the hospital. One of the dying mans last requests was for his dog to be taken care of, and Erceg has honored that request.

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Veterinarian clinic offers alternative

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